[image description: In the foreground, a stone statue of Mary holding baby Jesus, situated in a flower bed that has greenery and a single, yellow tulip fully open. Behind Mary in the flower bed is the statue of a male-presenting monk with his back turned, and in the distance are several tree branches, a brick building, and a gray, cloudy sky.]

“Once a weapon is built,
there’s no way of ensuring
it will only be used on the enemies
for whom it was first intended”
— Andre Henry


Scripture tells us that
God even gave Mary the choice
of whether or not
to become the mother
of God incarnate,
yet men and women
under the influence of patriarchy
who claim to speak for God
believe they know choice better than
someone seeking medical care,
someone who is pregnant,
a couple struggling with a difficult decision–
even God

These patriarchal people
are taught to believe the only choices
available to anyone
should be what they
choose for them,
because patriarchy
is built on

Decades of rhetoric
have worked to train the reach
of their compassion
to extend only to certain groups
and they have been
convinced that there is
no place for complexity,
no space to hold the fact that
multiple things can be true
at the same time,
no possibility that
what they believe best
for themselves
might be trauma
for someone else.

They seem unwilling or unable
to see the truth that choice
is more than just one thing
and what they offer
as easy alternatives are,
in fact,
rarely simple.

Violation is a terrible reality
in our world, homes, churches.
Medical peril is real.
Poverty is trauma.
Pregnancy is dangerous.
Adoption is a labyrinth.
Birth can be death.
Sometimes all available options
are devastating.

This is not to say
there aren’t real moral
questions to address
regarding choice.

This is not to say
there aren’t those who
have sincere personal conviction
regarding when life begins or
what happens in the womb.

Yet too many have allowed the
beliefs they chose
to be used to secure the power
of those who wield their conviction
as the means to strip away
from the marginalized
meger, hard-won
rights of autonomy
because they have been told
it is only the rights of
those who agree with them
that matter.

Convinced their own rights
are absolute even if they
infringe on the rights of others,
convinced they are the ones
persecuted and denied rights
because they can’t always
impose their choices on others,
unable to recognize
that with justice
further undermined,
it could be
their choices,
their rights,
stripped away next.

Even as this seems
the inevitable outcome
of our current state,
I admit
I want to hold out hope
we can find a way
to other possibilities.

Reflections (For One Hundred Thousand Welcomes)

[Image Description: photo resting on a wooden desk of a collage made from magazine photos, showing clockwise from the top left: a blue and yellow passenger train blurred in motion, an artistic juxtaposition of the coronavirus with a green fern and water droplets, a war-zone photo taken from inside a building with a large hole blown in the wall with debris covering the floor, and finally an older, dark-haired woman sitting on a bed wearing a blue skirt and white shirt under a mosquito net featuring an intricate floral and spiral design.]

In lockdown I wrote thoughts
until they became a poem
and then another
and another
and then I remembered
I’ve always thought in poetry.

It was Spring
and the woods smelled of
decaying leaves and honeysuckle blossoms,
as if to remind me that
a cycle of fading and blooming
is the truth of this life and that perhaps
it was possible the
catastrophic failure
of our current systems
would bring about the
letting go and renewal
this world desperately needed.

But time passed and
the ship has yet to right itself.

We have lost so many and
many communities are worse off now than
when pandamonium started
and it’s become impossible to ignore
that we are in a face-off
between those who want a better world
and those whose gods are profit and power
and the only way anything is going
to change for the better is if those of us who can
insist on
a way of life together that is not perpetual harm—
find each other,
work together,
and cultivate it.

Those of us
who are people
of incarnation and resurrection,
of compassion and justice,
of collective healing and liberation,
of knowing there is more to life
than chasing
unfair gain.

Even as we’re told
to go back to normal
and ramp up productivity
and pretend we didn’t see
behind the curtain,
I will keep facing hard truths,
questioning narratives,
dismantling conditioning,
and writing poems.

This is my resistance,
my contribution,
my work.

What is yours?

Welcome the Questions

[Image Description: close-up of dew drops on lawn grass in the foreground, in the background the sunrise is a brilliant orange behind a grove of trees.]

What is it that scares us
so much about questions?

Not asking a question
does not make the answer
less true.

If something is
becoming obsolete,
an inquiry does nothing
to prevent.

What is it that makes us
think we can control by
suppressing curiosity?

Curiosity not expressed
does not disappear.

Rather it closes down potential
for connection
for open exploration
for mutual understanding.

Instead of silencing questions,
invite them,
welcome them,
sit with them,
hold space for them,

and let them show you
and wonder
and truth
that control could
never find.


[image description: photo of a stone fireplace and hearth with a wooden mantle that has a canvas painting of the Grand Canyon resting on it. Morning sunlight is streaming through nearby windows making a golden outline across the top of the painting.]

The morning sun
is painting shadows
on the living room wall,
and I know I need to get up
from the couch and start my day,
but the house is still
and the dogs are quiet,
one cozy at my side,
and I feel calm.

I know
as soon as I stand up
I’ll break the morning-light spell
and the next time I notice,
the sun will be overhead
and there will be no
mystical, golden-tinged
outlines above the fireplace.

Then the furnace kicks on
and the other dog
begins whining to go outside
and it’s time to begin the workday,
but my soul is longing for a place
with different,
uninterrupted time.

Forgetting May Apples

[image description: a forest floor covered in brown, dried leaves in brilliant morning sunlight. In the foreground is a May Apple plant with its bright green leaves still pointing down and partially wrapped around the stem]

Enduring such a slow, cold Spring
you forget the existence

of May Apples and Ramps,
it’s been so damn long

since you’ve seen them.
Everything stripped so bare

you forget tree canopies
and jewelweed seedlings,

that it hasn’t always been
only gray lines and dried leaves.

Persisting so long half-frozen
you forget the reality

of seasons and renewal,
it’s been so damn long

you’ve tried to hold them at bay.
Everything static while

you parsed your bearings,
finally exhaled, surprised

to discover new understandings
and May Apples do exist.


[image description: light wood floor with a gray floor vent along a gray wall with a white baseboard. In the background, the baseboard is newly-painted and bright white, and in the foreground, the baseboard is dull and has multiple places where it is scuffed and the paint has been chipped away.]

I spent the past two weekends
scrubbing baseboards and repainting
after too many years of trying to ignore
dings and scrapes and marks,

not to mention the damage
caused those couple of winters
years ago when we let the kids ride their
big wheels in the house,

because big wheels were fun
and a great way to burn off
inexhaustible excess energy when
it was too cold and gross outside

or I just didn’t have the energy to go
through the exercise of requiring outdoor play
and dealing with the resulting pile of
wet winter clothes that would generate.

So there were days and evenings filled with
the laughter of two boys riding big wheels
around the kitchen table, racing, scratching
up the floor, chipping baseboards.

Boys now more calm and mostly grown,
no more racing about the house
and I relish the quieter days and evenings,
while glad we welcomed indoor racing and

kitchen sink bubble-making,
and all the other shenanigans we allowed
because messes can be cleared away
and baseboards can be repainted, eventually.


[Image description: a plain, dark gray wall with a white electrical outlet near the floor, with a bright, rectangular, window-shaped outline of sunlight cast on it through a double-pane window, with tree branches making interesting shadows in the light]

The immensity of love,
frustrations, crises, joy.
The way such experiences
can coexist within
a lifetime,
a person,
a moment,
a wonder,
a story,
a lament.

intertwine and
you aren’t okay,
you just breathe.

Other People are Just Trying to Exist

[image description: winter woods, devoid of leaves in the bright evening sunlight, sunburst captured between the fork of a tree, with brilliant blue sky in the background and large, gnarled tree roots in the foreground. ]

Far too many are deluded into thinking
what ails society is other people’s
bodies, abilities, questions, insights,
ways of being,
if those differ from the accepted reality
they’ve acquired from

bad interpretations of their sacred texts,
harmful narratives grounded in domination,
manipulations of power-hungry
public figures.

Walking around
believing self-determination
when what they have is simply compliance
to conditions determined by others,
falsehoods masquerading as freedom.

Convinced those simply moving to
live authentically,
share understanding,
advocate for equity,
impart hard-won knowledge,
are pushing a destructive agenda

when they are the ones with an agenda
to withhold access,
to exclude,
to silence,
to control,
to harm.

So sure that someone
else existing as their true self,
with needs met,
with celebration,
with support,
threatens their existence
that they want the other
to stop existing.

Imaginations impoverished,
unable to understand,
it is their own prison
into which they are wishing
to confine the world.

Terrified seeing those
living in the clear light of true freedom for all,
threatened by radical reimagining,
unable or unwilling to believe
in compassion,
in spaciousness,
in love
that could also be theirs
if they freed themselves
as well.


[Image description: close up of a dried beech leaf with several holes, against the backdrop of a gray sky and bare tree branches]

Some scars are visible at a glance,
like the one that misshapes
my right eyebrow,
acquired playing tag as a kid
too close to the side mirror
of my dad’s parked Oldsmobile.

Many scars, perhaps even most,
can only be seen by the reverberations
of their aftermath, how they shape
reactions and responses,

how they cause
fight or
flee or
freeze or
cause to believe one must
choose between one self-betrayal
or another.

Too many of us think
we have to see,
to understand the cause
in order to accept,
to accommodate what a person needs,
to affirm validity of healing,

as though we must agree
with someone’s navigation
of their own experience before
we deem them worthy.

When truth is there are experiences
we will never understand
because we do not bear those scars,
inhabit that body,
live that life.

Love says we don’t have to understand,
to endure the same wounds
to experience the same challenges,
in order to believe someone’s truth,
to welcome them as they are.


[Image description: a narrow woods with leafless trees silhouetted against the sky just as the sun is rising. Along the horizon behind the trees, the sky is starting to brighten golden and the sky above the trees is light blue. ]

We’re told there will be
wars and rumors of wars
and some people look forward
to this possibility,

perhaps opportunistically,
perhaps sadistically,
perhaps from a sense
of pride or heroism.

We’re told it’s naive
to dream that causes
of war, of destruction,
could be addressed,

that power could be shared,
that systems could be changed,
that things don’t have to stay
the way things have been made.

We’re told trying something different
would be a disaster because
some different things have
gone wrong in the past,

as though the way things are
now hasn’t been
going wrong for
a very long time.

We’re told this is how
it must be, as though
people didn’t lead us
here on purpose

with domination,

Perhaps it’s time to question why
we limit what we accept
as possible to such a narrow
range of options.

Perhaps it’s time to stop
listening to what we’re told
and start living into new
possibilities together.